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Tarquini takes Okayama Pole

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Gabriele Tarquini secured Pole Position for Sunday’s Race One at Okayama, holding off the BMWs of Andy Priaulx and Jorg Muller in the process.

This was the SEAT driver’s third consecutive pole, and is certainly helping his championship challenge through his recent good run of form.

“I was surprised to get pole,” Tarquini said. “I was helped by [Jordi] Gené who gave me a good slipstream. We know BMW have a better race pace so I don't think I will keep the front position but I must score points and finish both races.”

Thankfully for him though said BMWs are not even in the title race, with team-mate Yvan Muller and another BMW driver, Augusto Farfus now the only threat to taking his maiden WTCC title, after last winning the European Touring Car Championship back in 2004.

Yvan Muller doesn’t look much of a threat from 7th on the grid, and Farfus starts directly in front of him on the grid in 5th. But team orders during the race could change the complexion of the results entirely.

Farfus’ rear-wheel drive from his BMW 320si will likely help jump the only other SEAT in the Top 5, Rickard Rydell, and with only BMW team-mates to pass from there, at least a second place looks to be on the cards, if not first should he find a way past Tarquini.

Tom Coronel took the Independent’s Class Pole, and 12th overall on the grid. Luckily for him, his nearest title rival Felix Porteiro is down in 15th, with James Thompson‘s Lada and Nicola Larini‘s Chevy sandwiched inbetween them.

Nobuteru Taniguchi was the fastest local driver in his Proteam Motorsport BMW, taking 18th place, and was closely followed by fellow Japanese series newcomer and vastly experienced GT driver Seji Ara in the Weichers Sport BMW, taking 20th.

Pos Driver                   Car           Q1           Q2
 1. Gabriele Tarquini        SEAT          1m38.168s    1m37.666s
 2. Andy Priaulx             BMW           1m38.117s    1m37.716s
 3. Jorg Muller              BMW           1m37.914s    1m37.726s
 4. Rickard Rydell           SEAT          1m38.149s    1m37.799s
 5. Augusto Farfus           BMW           1m38.323s    1m37.826s
 6. Jordi Gene               SEAT          1m38.017s    1m37.835s
 7. Yvan Muller              SEAT          1m38.255s    1m37.978s
 8. Tiago Monteiro           SEAT          1m38.202s    1m38.119s
 9. Rob Huff                 Chevrolet     1m38.900s    1m38.620s
10. Alain Menu               Chevrolet     1m38.460s    1m39.110s
11. Sergio Hernandez         BMW           1m39.043s
12. Tom Coronel              SEAT          1m39.078s
13. James Thompson           Lada          1m39.106s
14. Nicola Larini            Chevrolet     1m39.126s
15. Felix Porteiro           BMW           1m39.159s
16. Alex Zanardi             BMW           1m39.186s
17. Stefano D'Aste           BMW           1m39.395s
18. Norbertu Taniguchi       BMW           1m39.469s
19. Jaap van Lagen           Lada          1m39.498s
20. Seiji Ara                BMW           1m39.549s
21. Joao Paulo de Oliveira   SEAT          1m39.643s
22. Franz Engstler           BMW           1m39.672s
23. Tom Boardman             SEAT          1m39.823s
24. Kristian Poulsen         BMW           1m40.112s
25. Kirill Ladygin           Lada          1m40.786s
26. Henry Ho                 BMW           1m41.536s
27. Masaki Kano              BMW           1m42.427s
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